Did you know that travelling to the United States isn’t as difficult as you might think it is? Many of you reading this are able to travel to the USA without a visa.
How can I travel to the USA without a visa?
Well, citizens of 38 countries can travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver programme. The Visa Waiver Programme has a resource under it called ESTA. That’s an electronic resource that allows you to travel to the USA for 2 years as a tourist or if you have business meetings to conduct. Furthermore, anybody with a connecting flight involving landing in the US also needs an ESTA. Click here to find out if your country participates in the ESTA programme.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA
The ESTA was created by the United States Department of Homeland Security, to increase security measures for anybody entering the United States. In this way, applicants wanting to enter the US can be vetted before they arrive. Another benefit of ESTA is quite simple. Once you arrive in the US, you should expect to wait less time in the queue than normal.
This sounds too good to be true!
It does, doesn’t it! You may be asking “What’s the catch?”, quite frankly there isn’t a catch. You can travel to the US for two years, for up to 90 days per visit. The cost of the ESTA application is a mere $14, too.
The only catch is that you must be from one of the countries eligible that partakes in the ESTA programme. The other catch is an internet connection.
Yes. That’s because you can only complete the ESTA application online. ESTA applications cannot be completed offline. Therefore, having an internet connection is essential. If a family member wants to travel to the US but doesn’t have an internet connection, you can complete the ESTA application on their behalf.
Now that you know that you will not have to make any more unnecessary trips to the embassy or consulate, you should consider that the ESTA application only takes approximately 30 minutes to start and finish. Once you complete all of the required fields and pay for your application, you should receive a response about your authorisation status within minutes.
Arrival in the US
So, when you arrive in the US, you will still have to pass through customs and border security. Undoubtedly, having an ESTA speeds up the whole process. However, at the end of the day, this is completely unavoidable.
Thus, there are certain questions that you may possibly be asked upon arrival to the United States.
Case in point:
How long are you staying in the United States for?
Do you have a travel itinerary for your stay in the United States?
Do you have sufficient funds for your whole duration within the United States?
Do you have an onward or return flight out of the United States booked?
Expect these questions to arise. You will require proof for all of the above. So take this information as a precaution, otherwise, you may encounter some problems.
Restrictions with ESTA
There are of course, like everything, some problems that CAN arise with ESTA. For example, you may be granted your authorization, but having an ESTA does not guarantee absolute entry into the country. You can still be denied entry at the port of entry and it is up to the border protection agent to decide that.
Finally, if your ESTA application is rejected – you will have to apply for a conventional visa. If your ESTA is rejected once, you will not be able to obtain one in the future either.
Additional info on the US
The US is a vast bundle of space with many cultures from all walks of life. Before you visit, make sure you do some research! VIsit http://wikitravel.org/en/United_States_of_America for more information on the US.